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Showing posts from 2009

My Very Eclectic Most Useful and Best of the Web 2009 (with initial caps)

I see some well-known online magazine sorts of blogs/sites have put up their annual lists of best/most popular bloggers and I see it is the same old names as always, ho hum. I'm put in mind of high school where every year we held voting for Most This and Best That and Miss This and Mr That. Some of the Mosts and Bests were people I liked, and believed should get recognition, but, of course, they weren't all of it. Anyway, I've got authority issues and never take well to The Man (whoever or whatever that may be) telling me who is Most or Best. I always spy on my friends on Twitter, Facebook, or their blogs to see who they quote, link or read. That's who I figure is a good shot at being a most or best for me . Yes, I'm that person -- the one who is influenced by her friends, versus another source. Also, I have a broad range of online interests. Web love is a many genre'd thing. Anyway, I decided to put out my own recs, and solicit yours, in no particular order

Care package for troops -- our holiday tradition

Every year since the war began, I've sent care packages to troops. They've been getting bigger each year. Seems like the longer people are fighting, the longer they are away from their families...the more I need to do in support of them. This year, I started thinking about a friend and how her husband was re-deployed, again. I wondered about these families that have to say hello and goodbye so often -- although she and so many others are so wonderfully eloquent and open about it that there is little actual wondering involved, other than "what would I do?" My friend's husband got leave to come home for the holidays -- yea! -- but he left behind other members of his unit. So I said, "What can I do?" Her husband asked his unit members, they generously shared their names and APO address, and I thought, "Who else can help?" That's when I turned to my SeaWorld WildSide buddies . They all signed up to help without hesitation. One friend had he

Don't look now

They say you aren't supposed to offer instructions with Don't in front. "Don't look down!" And you instantly look down because your brain is completely focused on the looking down part and the why not to do it part. They say you are supposed to say what to do instead. "Look up!" is supposed to be a lot more successful. But we keep saying "Don't look down." Daphne du Maurier had that in mind when she wrote her creepy short story, "Don't Look Now." That story is what I call a train wreck tale: you can't look away. The movie, even more so. Does anyone remember that movie? 1973? Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a young, grief-stricken couple who encounter psychics, ghosts, and serial killers in Venice? du Maurier could do Gothic. And creepy. It's kind of everyone's worst general fears all in one tale. Isn't the creepiest thing of all when you watch a person in an everyday thing -- something you might do? -

How the holidays fill me with loads of hope

I am part of a special holiday Blog Carnival hosted on Blog Nosh Magazine and this post was sponsored by the Tide Loads of Hope program. I was standing outside my house, directly under my children’s bedroom window, in what passes for cold in Bay Area Houston. In my hands I balanced a big boom box, Say Anything style, except it wasn’t blasting music. It was blasting the sound of reindeer hooves on a roof, including snorts, and the jingling bells of their harnesses. That’s when I knew it. No, not that I had lost my mind; I knew that I had finally gotten my holiday groove back. I knew that come what storms may, we could weather them, and when you have a chance to stand outside in what passes for cold blasting sleigh bells on a boom box to bring a little magic to kids, your kids, who still believe in, well, the everything sort of possibilities…you go for it, big. This marked a huge change. I’ve spent my life trying to find my footing during the holidays. My family had the general

Someone's in the kitchen with...KIDS! And it's called Kinderkitchen by Kuhn Rikon

I am a frequent customer of my local caterer, which offers really economic home-cooked meals. You buy, bring home, and eat. Yum. And easy. I used to like to cook, bake especially, and my true gift is as a saucier. I can also whip up amazing things with just what's in the fridge. People used to fly up to Boston just to eat the seafood I made. Well probably also see the sights and maybe visit me, but seriously, they requested to eat in, specifically asking for my crab cakes, shrimp, and Scrod. I can't explain how I morphed into a noncook. It's maybe the Unappreciative Audience (aka The Kids). It could also be the exhaustion. The other demands. But mostly, I think, it's the kids. I do know that they'll eat food other people make. My kids, for example, turn their noses up at my homemade stew (and it's good, honestly, it is) but will eat it at a friend's house. They'll eschew my fish, but will chow down at Joe's Crab Shack. They'll savor the cate

Bitten tongue

I, as you may have gathered, like to use my words. I try (like hades) to use them wisely and for good. But I am a woman of opinion, prejudice, judgment, and some immaturity as we all are and so sometimes my mouth, it does run away. Less these days than in the past, I hope. Although I do seem to talk a lot, still. However, recently I've been learning how very much I say about the things that often matter little to me. I have always kept up an artful show, a stream of lies and excuses -- a habit, a defense I developed long ago to protect myself, which, in turn, protected others around me too, for better or worse. One time, in middle school, I pretended I didn't know how to clean anything. More specifically, I pretended I didn't know how to sweep. This from the girl who'd been sweeping and mopping for years, among many, many other responsibilities. I'm all for chores, but there's a distinction between responsibility and burdening. But at camp that summer, I want

Perfected art of dehumanizing

We humans have perfected the art of dehumanizing people for our own ends. We modern people have perfected the art of rationalizing this, even to the point that we believe it is Good and/or Deserved. Reality TV doesn't help, but, perhaps ironically, I think blogging does. In snippet situations--which abound in all areas of media and life these days, from text messages, to brief interactions, from hectic schedules to ideology condensed to a talking point--we can find our brief summaries of others reinforced. Blogs and other lengthier more personal interactions force us to pause and reconsider...if we let ourselves. It's so simple to sum up another person: she's organized, he's loud, she's a christian, he's a liberal, she's scary smart, he's so nice... We often even think of these things as compliments. But are they? Or are they oversimplified labels that in some way dehumanize the other person? Have we snapped people we know into lock boxes, never to be

A Whale of a Great Slumber Party at SeaWorld

A while back I conceived of this brilliant plot whereby I would conspire to convince SeaWorld that TheMotherhood.com and I could make fantastic co-hosts for an awesome event at their San Antonio location. Friends, I must talk a really great game because I convinced the brilliant (and occasionally omniscient) Kami Huyse and SeaWorld as well as the amazing Cooper and Emily of TheMotherhood.com that this was a very good idea. The next thing any of us knew (ha! as if it was simply movie magic easy LOL!), we were blowing up air mattresses with some of the most fantastic women in Texas to sleep with extremely cute but a little smelly puffins. I've felt at a cross-roads this year, more so lately, which may or may not have anything to do with a recent birthday. I don't mind getting older or even middle-aged, aside from the minor physical inconveniences (great scott, the plucking!) (the sagging elbows!) (the creaky knees!) (enough!) but the big benefit of aging is supposed to be w

100 Years of Magic -- Cute Costumed Kids Included

My four year old dressed to the nines for our special night out to Disney on Ice. I thought she'd be unique, a stand-out. I thought she would garner attention in her plum fairy princess outfit. What I forgot was that "costume" is the preferred style for the four year old girl crowd. Instead of being the one, my daughter was one among many. Princesses (all of them, including Pocahontas), fairies, Minnie Mouses, and any and all Disney characters pranced in mini-form around Reliant Stadium. My daughter had, in her ineffable way, tapped into the collective four year old dress-up girl consciousness. As we passed these costumed sprites (and fairies, and princesses, and mice), my eyes met the other parents' eyes in a flash of commonality: we were parents with This Sort of girl child, and we were That Sort of parent, who was willing to let our girls dress up to go out, even if it was in costume. Whether we had anything else in common was irrelevant; on that point, we met

This is a sincere promo post about Disney on Ice

Don't roll your eyes at me -- I come bearing coupons! So listen, my kids are MAJOR fans of Disney on Ice (any one, they aren't picky) and frankly Disney ought to hire them to promote the show because honestly nobody else does a better job. Right now a bunch of parents we know are either cursing my name or buying tickets to the show (although, upon reflection, it's not mutually exclusive lol). The kids are currently hoppier than a grasshopper in a field of clover and more excited than for Halloween because tomorrow we are going to see Disney on Ice's 100 Years of Magic. I am really glad it is tomorrow because I told them a week ago that we were going and it's been a chorus of "are we there yet?" ever since. And we're excited about it too because it IS a great and entertaining show. I can't ice skate in simple clothes clutching a wall so to watch these athletes glide around in elaborate costumes wows me every time. I'll be back later with pho

There are worse things I could do

It's a jungle out there, which requires skilled juggling and a bag of tricks, too. When Grease! (the movie) came out, my friends and I went Grease-crazy. Everyone bought the album, and we poured over the foldout album cover's yearbook style collection of photos. We tried to decide which T-Birds were cute versus too greaser, and which photo of Danny and Sandy was best. Meanwhile, the vinyl record played on the record player in the background, repeating the songs until they were burned into my brain for thirty years (and probably beyond). For my birthday, I had a fifties themed party that year. All the kids came in rolled up jeans and tee-shirt or puffy poodle skirts. I have the photos still, and there we are dancing, singing, and mugging in a big group for the camera. It's amazing how period-perfect we looked. It's amazing how carefree and happy we were. When I look at the photos, I remember other things beyond the giant amount of fun we had at my party, beyond how

Imagine all the people...celebrating more birthdays

It was days, really, between learning my friend was being sent home, cancer treatment suspended, and learning she had passed away. Sadly, the first symptom came well after the cancer had already metastasized and spread. They began intensive treatment, aggressive. It was hard on her, but she had a lot to live for: loving family, loving friends, and two beautiful children, as well as all of her work, including a book she authored for children about children on the autism spectrum . That was her: a do-er. She was the sort of person you could picture growing older, still doing. I could even picture her forty years from now blowing out a cake full of candles. In my imagination, over her cake, her hair was still bright, as it was before she got sick. She’d do that, I knew, keep herself looking nice. She’d have a big smile, and she’d tell everyone they shouldn’t have made such a fuss, but everyone would ignore her because they knew she was deeply touched -- family and family times were every

The American People in their Righteous Might*

* Title from a speech by FDR immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor Eight years ago I was so pregnant I was at that "oh no you didn't go and make me move, now I'll have to sit on you and crush you" stage. When I woke up that morning, I lay on my side, the left, of course, with my knees slightly bent, of course, and I contemplated the floor. Was it going to be easier, I wondered, to maneuver the upper half of my body upright first, or to kick my legs hard enough to get momentum to drop them over the edge of the bed to help hurtle me into a standing position? In the end, hunger is what really got me out of bed that day. But still, I moved at the speed of snail. That's why I was still in my car zipping through Salem, slowing only to consider stopping for a pistachio donut at the greatest little bakery right before the historic square. In my mind, the morning is molasses slow motion and details are vivid. It was a gorgeous perfect New England fall day. Brill